Memorial Day Tribute – part 3

Even though God had provided them with food on day six, the mental state of some of the men began to slip. Rickenbacker’s personal aide attempted to take his own life by slipping over the side of his life raft. Rickenbacker snatched the man back by the scruff of his neck and it was at that point that Rickenbacker assumed the role of morale officer. Whitaker wrote that he could not put down all the things Rickenbacker said to the men over the course of the next two weeks when he sensed that one of them was giving up. He said the foul language would “scorch the paper!” Woe to any man who was about to quit, give up, or do anything that would bring down the morale of the group.

Days seven and eight found the men miserably weak from thirst. They had not had any water since the B-17 ditched. They were no longer praying for food, but for water. By day eight, Whitaker had memorized the Lord’s Prayer, which the men recited out loud every evening at the conclusion of their devotional time. God began the process of convicting Whitaker, and he wrote that was gradually beginning to realize no human agency, acting alone, could save them. The afternoon of the eighth day, the group’s commander led them in this prayer:

“Old Master, we called on You for food, and You delivered. We ask You now for water. We’ve done the best we could. If You don’t make up your mind to help us pretty soon, I guess that’s all there’ll be to it. It looks like the next move is up to You, Old Master.”

Whitaker noted that that prayer, despite its informal wording, has just about everything in it a prayer should have. It presents a petition to God and at the same time, it expresses resignation to God’s will. Finally, it implies the belief – the faith – that the petition will be granted.

After the commander prayed, they all recited the Lord’s prayer a second time. Whitaker shared the thoughts that went through his mind afterward:

While we rolled and wallowed over the crests and into the troughs, I was thinking that this was God’s chance to make a believer of Jim Whitaker. If there was indeed a God and He could ignore a prayer like that, then He must be a pretty heartless being. My thoughts went on in this vein for some time; I don’t know how long. I do know that eventually I became aware something was tugging insistently at my consciousness. I looked over to the left. A cloud that had been fleecy and white a while ago now was darkening by the second.”

Within minutes the men were in the midst of a downpour! They tried to collect as much water as they could and managed to gather about a quart in one of the life vests. As the rain fell, the commander shouted, “Thanks Old Master”  

“Then”, Whitaker wrote, “as though the Lord wanted to remind us that He can take away as well as give, a huge wave came up out of nowhere and capsized our raft.”  They lost their remaining flares and flare guns, but they managed to hang onto to the life vest with the quart of fresh water inside it.

“Faith is a fragile thing and elusive. It is all too easily shattered or lost.”  Whitaker was a man on verge of conversion to faith in God at that point. However, there was no getting around the reality of their situation. Even with the life saving rain the night before, most of the men were of the opinion that they were all going to die in those life rafts out in the middle of the Pacific. Still, it’s plain to see that God had gotten his attention.

Whitaker had become a believer by the time he wrote his book, so all of this was written in retrospect. From this point in the book to the end, you can see his transition to faith expressed in his writing. For instance, on the ninth day, after they managed to catch a small shark, Whitaker wrote that it was the Lord who provided the food. What the reader of his book gets to see is each step of his journey to faith. At the end of the ninth day, the men held their prayer service. Whitaker wrote “I joined feelingly in the worship. I know this: I wanted to believe. Yet in all honesty, I must confess that there remained enough of my old and false pride to make me say to myself: ‘Let’s not overlook any bets.'”

 Whitaker also wrote of his conversion experience: “I had been an agnostic; an atheist, if you will. I am not sure I am using either term correctly. I imagined that I doubted the existence of such a being as God. I reasoned further, when religion was mentioned, that God had never done much for me in my life, so why worship Him? the most I could salvage from those gloomy thoughts was that I at least had never been a hypocrite. I pondered that night on an expression I had heard out in the Southwest Pacific: ‘There are no atheists in the foxholes of Guadalcanal.’ I can tell you now that there can be no atheists in rubber rafts amid whitecaps and sharks in the equatorial Pacific. I was finding my God in those watery wastes and we were meeting as strangers. I don’t deny that there was still a reluctance somewhere deep inside me After 40 years and more of indifference and selfishness, it would have been strange indeed if I hadn’t felt something of the sort. We might have remained strangers had it not been for Him. He was soon to send two divine miracles that saved my life twice more and change my life as completely as a life can be changed.”
As we all know, every Christian can tell you what life was like before coming to Jesus Christ, what brought about his or her conversion, and how their lives changed after accepting Christ. We see all of that in Whitaker’s words. He was finding God in the watery waste.

Whitaker gave credit to God for two life saving, life changing miracles that made the difference between life and death. But in reality, there were numerous miracles that God used to save those men, both physically and spiritually.

A couple of more days passed. Day 11 brought a torrential downpour and more life giving fresh water. The following night, Sergeant Kaczmarczyk died. As was mentioned earlier, he was the only one who did not make it. The next morning, the 13th day, they held a funeral service for him and set his body adrift. They watched him float away for a long time. As Whitaker noted, nothing bothered the sergeant’s body.

That same day, the heat became unbearable. Their skin was burned to a crisp and constantly peeling. They had rashes from rubbing against the rubber rafts. Everyone but Whitaker and Rickenbacker developed salt water ulcers on their legs that were described as being as painful as boils. They were near death. They had gone through the water they had collected two days before and their thirst raged. That morning, they saw a rain squall some distance away. They prayed aloud for it to reach them. Then the wind whipped up and blew it away from them.

“Somehow,” Whitaker wrote, “my faith did not die. For the first time, I found myself leading the others in prayer. Like the others, I didn’t know how to address God, so I talked to him like I would have to a parent or friend.”

Interesting words. In John 15, Jesus said,  “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.”

As the rain moved away, Whitaker prayed aloud: “God. You know what that water means to us. The wind has blown it away. It is in your power, God, to send back that rain. It’s nothing to you, but it means life to us. God, the wind is Yours. You own it. Order it to blow back that rain to us who will die without it.”

This is what he wrote next: “There are some things that cannot be explained by natural law. The wind did not change, but the curtain of rain stopped where it was. Then, ever so slowly, it started back toward us – against the wind! A meteorologist tried to explain it to me afterward; something about cross current buffeting. I tell you there was no buffeting. It was as if a great and omnipotent hand was guiding it to us across the water. And for my money, that’s exactly what happened.”

Even with that miracle, the worst part of their ordeal was ahead of them. They spent the next four days in an area Whitaker called the doldrums, a region commonly referred to by scientists as the horse latitudes. That’s a region of ocean where there is absolutely no wind or precipitation. Old time sailing vessels caught in that region would stall and cease to move for days and sometimes weeks on end.

All the men but Whitaker were covered in painful ulcers. He said it was suffering the likes of which he had never seen before. They had water, but it had to be strictly rationed. The men started becoming delirious and they began hallucinating.

It was during those four days that Rickenbacker worked hardest to keep morale up. Everyone was so mad at him, Whitaker said, that they vowed to live just to spite Rickenbacker! In those four days, he said Rickenbacker slung some mighty powerful and fancy cussing!

By day 18, Whitaker was leading most of the prayer services. They were now praying for rescue. As that day drew to a close, he said felt that rescue was coming. He prayed to God that he might live to see it. As the sun set that evening, the commander of the group suddenly sat upright. “I hear an engine.” he said. At first they thought he was hearing things, but then everyone heard it!

It turned out to be a U.S. Navy pontoon plane known as a Kingfisher. The plane passed within about five miles. And then it flew off into the distance. The pilot did not see them. As you would expect, their morale plummeted. Whitaker said that was when Rickenbacker unleashed cussing that had to be the masterpiece of his career! He was not looking to win a popularity contest. The morale of the men was all he cared about.

About the time Rickenbacker finished his barrage, the wind began to blow. And on day 19, a small rain shower blew in. It was such a light shower, they couldn’t collect any water. But the wind and the sight of the plane so encourage Whitaker that he was unable to sleep that night. He said he reviewed in his mind the things God had done for him during the ordeal. To paraphrase his words, he thought about the prayers that had been answered. But more than any of that, he thought about the most important thing – that he had learned to pray. He knew in that moment that he had found God and did turn away from Him a stranger.

That same day another Navy plane passed by them. They knew they were close to a base. It was just a matter of living long enough until they were spotted. On day 20, same thing. A patrol plane few over them  them without seeing them. That was when the commander made a crucial decision: They would cut the ropes holding the rafts together and drift off, hopefully, in separate directions and hope one of the three rafts would be spotted. Whitaker’s raft was the larger of the three, so two men went with him. The other two rafts held two men each. By late afternoon of the 20th day, they could no longer see each other.

Day 21: Whitaker and his two companions spotted land! Actually, they saw the tops of palm trees about 12 miles away. That was around 6:30 in the morning, shortly after sunrise. It took 7 and half hours for them to reach the island. And it took another miracle. Whitaker was the only one of the three men with enough strength to row with the aluminum oars that were in the life raft. One of his companions tried to spell him, but a few minutes was all he could manage.

In a cruel twist, they were about 250 yards from shore when the ocean currents began pulling them back out to sea. Whitaker thought then that only a miracle could set their feet on that island. Then he recalled the miracle of the rain on the 13th day. He remembered other answers to prayer. He said he remembered his God! He began crying out to God for strength. The other two men were startled! He cried out louder. Within a half hour, he was rowing and began making progress. A sudden rain squall blotted out the island and produced wind that pushed against the raft. Whitaker cried out his final prayer: “God! Don’t quit me now!”

Whitaker said his prayer was born of desperation. But it came from the depths of his soul, he said. Any mental reservations were now gone. “I was calling to my God.” he wrote, and the answer was immediate and miraculous. He testified to how strength surged back into his shoulders and arms. He said it was if the oars were working automatically and his hands merely followed their motion.“As steadily as though drawn by a cable attached to a winch on shore, we moved through treacherous surf, amid sharks, and in the face of a buffeting rain squall. It was the second miracle, and I recognized it for what it was.”  The bow of the life raft grounded on the beach at 2:00 p.m. of the 21st day.

They landed on a small unnamed island with coconuts and enough rain water captured in coral pockets to sustain them until friendly Pacific island natives found them a few days later. A Navy Kingfisher spotted one of the other life rafts, the one that held the group’s commander and his companion, right around the time Whitaker’s raft made landfall. The natives had been asked by the Navy to go out looking for the other survivors. Whitaker called them, “instruments in God’s hands.” Rickenbacker and his aide were spotted and rescued the following day.

On day 24, six of the seven survivors were reunited at a makeshift hospital on another island identified only as X-2. The seventh man was too weak to be moved and remained in the sick bay of the transport ship that carried them to X-2. He eventually recovered. They recuperated at the makeshift hospital for a few days before being transferred by PBY flying boats to a proper hospital on American Samoa. As they were being transferred out, Rickenbacker said to John Bartek, the private with the khaki covered New Testament Bible, “Better thank God for that Testament of yours son. You see now what faith can do for a man.”  Whitaker commented, “There wasn’t a man among us who didn’t thank God for that little khaki covered Bible. It led us to prayer and prayer led us to safety.” 

A few weeks later, the men landed back at Hickam Field in Hawaii, fully recovered. The rest of the book is a tribute to the men who, at that time, were still fighting the war in the Pacific.

Millions of men and women have served in America’s armed forces. As bad as the ordeal that Whitaker and Rickenbacker and the men with them endured, there is an uncountable number of soldiers and sailors who endured far worse. The men who suffered through the Bataan Death March after the fall of Philippines at the outset of World War II come to mind. There were POW’s camps in Germany and Japan who were horribly abused for years. Some lived to tell about it. Many did not. We owe them all a great debt. This Memorial Day, we honor those who paid the ultimate price to defend the freedoms we all too often take for granted. We give thanks to God for the men and women who gave their lives for freedom. And we give thanks for our savior Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the cross secured our freedom for all eternity, for anyone who calls on His name!

 

Memorial Day Tribute part 2 – Miracles Still Happen!

I was flying across the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago and I recall looking out the window of the airplane and experiencing a brief feeling of loneliness as I stared out at the vast emptiness of the water below. I remember thinking that I would not want to be stranded down there in a small boat.

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As vast as the Gulf of Mexico is, it pales in comparison to the Pacific ocean. If you wouldn’t want to be stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, you certainly never want to find yourself in the middle of Pacific on a small life raft. But that was exactly where Lieutenant James Whitaker, World War I hero Eddie Rickenbacker, and five other men found themselves in the fall of 1942.

To honor God and to pay tribute to those who served in light of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, I’d like to share a condensed account of their story recorded in the book “We thought We Heard The Angels Sing” written by Lieutenant Whitaker. It’s an amazing testimony to the power of God to deliver us and provide for us in times of peril, and it’s also a very compelling testimony of Whitaker’s conversion to Christianity.

In the first chapter, Whitaker introduces the rest of the crew. He gives their names and a description of their duties. One of the men, a 20 year old private who was their primary flight engineer, carried a little khaki covered New Testament Bible that, according to Whitaker, the young private always found time to read. Whitaker said he would always chuckle when he saw the private reading that Bible. He also recalled how the other men would sometimes heckle the young private when they saw him reading his Bible.

Whitaker was the co-pilot of the B-17 that was assigned to carry Rickenbacker and his aide to a forward combat unit somewhere in the south Pacific for one of their inspection tours. The plane they were on was in fact, a spare. They were originally on board a different B-17 that suffered a ground mishap during an aborted take off attempt at Hickam Field in Hawaii and suffered damage that required extensive repairs. It’s believed that a key piece of navigation equipment was damaged during that mishap. That particular piece of equipment was not affixed to the aircraft. It was a portable unit and when it was transferred to the second  B-17, the damage went undetected.

As a result of the damaged navigation equipment, the plane strayed hundreds of miles off course. Eventually, it ran out fuel and the pilots were forced to ditch in the ocean. For 24 days the men were adrift in the Pacific ocean and by all accounts, should have died from exposure and/or starvation and dehydration. In fact, one man did lose his life during the ordeal. His name was Alex Kaczmarczyk an Army Air Corps sergeant. He was not actually a regular member of this particular Transport Command aircrew. He had had been hospitalized in Hawaii for over a month for jaundice and was hitching a ride back to his unit somewhere in the southwest Pacific. Because he was rated as a flight engineer, he signed on for this flight as a second flight engineer. It was believed that this young sergeant died because he had not sufficiently recovered from his illness.

The rest of the men did survive, barely, and Whitaker described two life saving miracles that helped sustain them until their rescue. But there were other miracles to be sure. They managed to ditch a large aircraft in an ocean without loss of life or major injury. And they managed to avoid capture by the Japanese.

Their situation quickly became dire. The men had been unable to retrieve the survival supplies from the B-17 before it sank. All they managed to salvage was some fishing line and four small oranges. They had nothing else other than a few personal possessions, including the Bible that belonged to the flight engineer. They were going to have to depend on God.

They had been adrift for only two days and they were already miserable. By day it was the heat. At night it was freezing cold. Toward evening of the second day, Whitaker noticed the flight engineer reading his New Testament. This is a quote from the book “As I sat there that evening of our second day adrift, I noticed that Johnny Bartak (the flight engineer) was reading his Testament. Something – I didn’t know what it was at the time – kept me from heckling him.” That New Testament pocket Bible would become their source of hope and strength as their situation worsened.

On the fourth day they were already feeling the effects of thirst and hunger. They had fishing line, but no bait. They were seriously discussing whether an ear lobe or part of a finger or a toe would better serve as bait when out of the blue, a seagull landed on Eddie Rickenbacker’s head! He slowly worked his hand up toward the bird and finally snatched it. They quickly carved it up and distributed portions of the bird to one another. Whitaker wrote that the meat was like iron wire, but the intestines made good bait. They were able to catch a few hand sized fish.

On day five they began drawing all the life rafts together for a prayer meeting (the men were in three separate life rafts that were tied together). Whitaker noted, “I didn’t have the least notion that this open-air hallelujah meeting was going to do any good; neither did I resent it. I simply felt it couldn’t do any harm.” Rickenbacker’s assistant read from the New Testament that day. There was one particular passage that got everyone’s attention and they had him read it a second time. It was from Matthew chapter 6, verses 31 through 34:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Whitaker had this to say about that passage: “I thought of these words during the wet, dreary night that followed. I dismissed them finally with the decision I would believe when I saw the food and drink. I was destined to see something startlingly like proof the following night.”

That proof was the first of the two miracles that Whitaker alluded to at the beginning of his book. The prayer meeting that began on day five would become a daily event. Day six had been brutal and as Rickenbacker’s assistant began to read from the New Testament, Whitaker shared how ridiculous it seemed to him, “that men as practical and hardboiled as they were –  could expect a mumbling voice out on that waste of water to summon help for us.” However, he did join in the prayers, albeit passively.

After reciting the passage from Matthew 6, the pilot and commander of the group (remember, Whitaker was the co-pilot) led the men in this prayer, one which Whitaker recorded in his diary:
“Old Master, we know this isn’t a guarantee we’ll eat in the morning. But we’re sure in an awful fix, as You know. We sure are counting on something by day after tomorrow, at least. See what you can do for us, Old Master.”
As Whitaker recalled, the commander was reverent, and deeply earnest. Their prayers were simple and straightforward. No thee’s and thou’s.

The commander finished his prayer and then fired off a single flare as he had done every night since their ordeal began. They all hoped something would happen, and it did! But it wasn’t quite what they anticipated. The flare malfunctioned. The flaming ball rose just a few feet in the air and then it landed on the surface of the water just a few feet from the rafts. It illuminated the the ocean for hundreds of yards, so much so that the could see barracuda chasing a school of fish. Two very large fish, pursued by the barracuda, jumped into one of the rafts. The men had enough food to sustain them for the next couple of days. Whitaker was so puzzled by what he had seen, he was unable to sleep that night. Clearly, God had gotten his attention.

Still to come, part 3 – the conclusion to this story.

A Memorial Day Tribute…..part 1

After my father-in-law passed away in 2011, we brought home a couple of boxes of his personal effects, and they stayed in a closet until recently when my wife decided to go through them. She came across a book called, “We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing.” The book was written in 1942  by a Lieutenant James C. Whitaker, U.S. Army Air Corps Transport Command. On the title page is the following description: The complete epic story of the ordeal and rescue of those who were with Eddie Rickenbacker on the plane lost in the Pacific.

For those of you not familiar with the history, Eddie Rickenbacker was World a War I fighter pilot. He was credited with shooting down 26 German aircraft, more than other American fighter pilot, and his 26 victories stood as a record until World War II. When America became involved in the Second World War, Rickenbacker supported the war effort as a civilian adviser. He often visited soldiers who were stationed at the front lines to review living conditions, check on the availability of necessary equipment, and to give assessments of the overall operations of combat units. Afterwards he would make his report and send his findings back to Washington. During one such trip to the south Pacific in 1942, the plane on which Rickenbacker and his aide had hitched a ride, an older B-17 bomber, was forced to ditch in the ocean. Rickenbacker and the aircrew spent the next 24 days in life rafts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The book by Lieutenant Whitaker tells the story of their ordeal.

When my wife found the book, she asked if I’d ever heard of it. Of course I hadn’t but I was curious about the book’s title. So I began reading it and found it to be one of the most amazing testimonies of God’s protection and deliverance that I’ve ever read outside the Bible. We recently studied Acts chapter 9 and examined two miracles that God worked through the Apostle Peter. The question that came up during that study was, “Do miracles still happen today?” In his book, Lieutenant Whitaker recorded several  modern day miracles that he credits for saving the lives of him and Rickenbacker and all but one of the air crewmen who were aboard the ill-fated B-17 bomber. According to Whitaker, there was no other explanation for the lifesaving miracles other than the hand of God.

At the front of the book I found this prayer/poem written as a dedication by Chicago Tribune reporter John Hooks when the book was published in 1943. Hooks began his dedication with a quote from one of the chapters in the book and followed that with the words of his prayer/poem. It reads as follows and keep in mind it was written at the height of World War II, before the outcome of the war was known:
“The receding curtain of rain….began moving back toward us, against the wind……as if a great and omnipotent hand moved it.”

They learn man’s impotence, who long adrift
In loneliness of space and find seas and skies
To charts unknown, where sullen dawns are swift
But bring no hope to aching, straining eyes;
Yet they found faith to ask for rain to heal
Their thirst, and saw how passing clouds were stayed
As if God stooped to heed their faint appeal
And the waters heard and the waves obeyed.
Father, we plead that peace may come like rain
In Thy good time to our beloved land;
Grant us the strength to work, and thus sustain
The faith to know a mighty, unseen hand
Still guides our destiny; and as we pray
May rain’s soft mercy bring a better day. 

Those words were dedicated to the airmen who had been lost at sea and were all but given up for dead. There is no shortage of lost and confused and misguided people in America today. We are a land and a people in need of prayer and these words could just as easily apply to us today: “Father, we plead that peace may come like rain in Thy good time to our beloved land. Grant us the strength to know a mighty, unseen hand still guides our destiny.” God is still in control.

The experience brought Whitaker into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and the story is as much about his journey to becoming a Christian as it is about the ordeal he and his companions endured. As a Memorial Day tribute, I’d like to share with you the author’s accounts of the miracles that not only saved the lives of him and his companions, but also brought him into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It is my intent to honor our veterans by retelling this story, in a condensed form, and to bring honor and glory to God.

In part 2, the first of the miracles……………………………

Left Behind

In the 1998 movie “The Thin Red Line”, there was a memorable scene in which a group of Marines was standing on the deck of troop transport ship that was part of a convoy on its way to the invasion of Guadalcanal during World War Two. They were standing by the rail looking out over the ocean at the other ships in the convoy when one of the Marines leaned out a little too far and fell overboard. At first, his buddies laughed it up as they taunted him and made fun of him for falling into the water. But as the movie’s narrator explained, everyone fell silent as it dawned on them that the Navy was not going to bring the entire convoy to a halt just to rescue one man. As the scene ends, his buddies are very somber. They’re not saying a word. We last see the Marine treading water, yelling for help. His voice gradually fades away and the scene fades to black as he becomes just a dot in the ocean while the ship sails on. That Marine’s fate was sealed the moment he hit the water. He would be left behind to die alone in the ocean as the convoy continued on to Guadalcanal to fulfill its mission.

It’s a terrible thing to be left behind. As Paul explained to the Thessalonians, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” A day is coming when Jesus will come and gather His church. We’ll be taken out of the world. But for those who are not in Christ, an awful fate awaits them. Just like that Marine in the movie, they’ll be left behind.

Like I said, it’s a terrible thing to be left behind, and when it comes to what happens after the rapture of the church, terrible is putting it mildly. The seven year period that follows the rapture will be the worst the world has ever known. The book of Revelation calls it the Great Tribulation. As Jesus described it in Matthew 24, it will be a time of increased wickedness. It will be a time of unprecedented evil on earth and it will bring judgment from God unlike anything the world has ever seen. I’ve heard it preached that it will be a time of hell on earth and for the majority of those left behind, hell will be their final destination.

I had a  man tell me once that he wasn’t afraid of hell. “The way I figure it,” he said with a grin on his face, “All the drug dealers and prostitutes will be there. It will be a never ending party!”  Folks, hell is not going to be a party. Hell will be a place of eternal torment and suffering for everyone who rejects Jesus Christ. It’s a terrible thing to be left behind and as bad as that will be, it’ll be even worse to be left out. That’s what awaits everyone who denies Jesus Christ. They will be left out of the Kingdom of Heaven on the day of judgment. They will be left out……forever. The Bible plainly says that no sinful thing can enter Heaven. Jesus paid our sin debt at the cross. But anyone who rejects God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ must pay that debt themselves. Believe me when I say there will be no parties in hell.

Isaiah 55 verses 6 and 7 tell us:

Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways

and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, 

and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 

While that passage is a reminder of the mercy of God, it also tells us that God’s patience, though great, is not infinite. The day is coming when believers will be taken up to Heaven. Unbelievers will be left behind, and God will not be near as He is now.

Up till now, I’ve said nothing of those who will accept Christ during the Tribulation. Many will come to Christ then, but they will still have to suffer through that terrible time. Ultimately, they will be rewarded when Christ sets up His kingdom on earth. That will happen, but this is my main point: No one knows when Jesus will return. It could happen at any moment. There are no more prophecies left to be fulfilled before He comes. The rapture IS the next event on the prophetic calendar, as I’ve heard it stated. I don’t want any of my friends or family members to be left behind if Jesus should call us out of the world in our lifetime. Neither should you. It’s a terrible thing to be left behind. It will be even worse knowing that it didn’t have to be that way.

 

All praise, glory, and honor to Jesus Christ our Lord!